When I started looking into my Coxon family history I took note of this single surviving letter to my great grandfather, Christopher William Coxon (C. W. Coxon), from his brother in England, Charles Merriman Coxon (C. M. Coxon), that I found amongst Dad’s effects after he died.
This short letter turned out to be a goldmine.
The Letter, Transcribed
5 . Wood Street Square
London E. C.
23 May 1901
My dear Brother.
I received your letter dated 21 Feb in which you say that it is 2 years since you heard from me. Time passes very quickly but I don't think it is so long as that since I wrote to you last. You have changed your address since then I think, for I don't remember addressing a letter to Red Rock before, and I have moved once or twice since the big fire occurred here
on the 19 Nov 1897 - when my place was burnt out and I lost everything - I have got settled down again but not in the same building as before. You will see that by my address - it is next door but one. I had meant to reply to your letter before but have not been well for a few weeks. I am pleased to say that I am better again. I am sorry to hear that you have lost the use of your left side. I think under those circumstances it would not be very wise for you to come over here as I am afraid you would not be able to get about very well. I don't go down into Lincolnshire now for there is nobody there that I know. I want to go to Holbeach to look at the Cemetery and see if any thing wants doing at the graves there. I am afraid there is something to be done.
I don't know whether Dan is living at Holbeach now - for I have not heard any thing from him for years, and we were never on very intimate terms. And there are no friends left that I know any thing about. You said in your letter that you had not had a good time. I hope you may have a better time this year. and keep pretty well in health.
With love I am
Your affectionate Brother
C M Coxon
Dad Rarely Mentioned his Grandfather Coxon
Dad mentioned his grandfather (at least I think it was his grandfather) coming over from England with his brother, who went back, never to be heard from again.
Great grandfather Christopher died 3 December 1906, two years before dad was born on 1 Aug 1908 so he never knew him. Christopher's wife Margaret died 1 May 1910 in Chatham.
I assume they were living at the time at what David Cooper refers to as the Coxon place, the first older house southeast of the intersection of County Routes 5 & 24 up toward Fog Hill. Or was that Dad’s parents, James and Iva Coxon who lived there?
I had never heard of the Coxon place until David mentioned it one day. Dad never talked about this stuff and somehow I wasn’t curious enough to ask about it. Grandma Iva died before I was born (31 Jan 1940) and Grandpa James lived with us for a while until he died 26 Nov 1950. I guess knowing that little bit satisfied my curiosity at the time.
I have a bit of research to do.
There’s a Lot to Unpack Here
There’s more here than a casual reading might indicate.
- This letter makes the story I heard about the brothers losing contact is not entirely true; the brothers were at least occasionally in contact by mail. And the brothers were of my Great Grandparents generation, not my Grandparents.
- C. W. Coxon moved to Red Rock between 1899+/- and 21 Feb 1901. To the Coxon place?
- C. M. Coxon writes 23 May 1901 from 5 Wood Street Square, London E. C.
- C. M. Coxon moved once or twice since the big fire on 19 Nov 1897 when he was burnt out of his place next door to 5 Wood Street Square and lost everything.
- C. W. Coxon wrote in his 21 Feb 1901 letter that he had lost the use of his left side. In this letter his brother discourages him from coming to London. This seems to indicate there was some mention in an earlier letter of C. W. visiting London.
- C. M. doesn’t go down to Lincolnshire anymore as there is nobody there he knows. This seems to indicate they were from Lincolnshire.
- C. M. wants to go to Holbrook to look at the cemetery to see if anything wants doing. He fears there is. Is Holbrook in Lincolnshire?
- C. M. doesn’t know if Dan is living at Holbrook now. Hasn’t heard from him for years. They were never on intimate terms. Is Dan a brother to C. M. and C. W.?
- C. W. said in his letter he had not had a good time. C. M. wishes him well. I assume this refers to his loss of use of his left side but there may have been more.